By Technology Times Staff Reporters
Lagos. May 15, 2013: The State Security Service, MTN Nigeria and the major telecoms companies use special technologies that enable them to secretly intercept electronic communication of Nigerians, in one of the major revelations that emerged from a technology forum held yesterday in Lagos.
The State Security Service (SSS), MTN Nigeria and the other three GSM networks, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria have in place technologies for the interception of electronic communication that offer them the capability to pry on Nigerians.
The revelation came up at the inaugural edition of the Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD) Policy Review Forum on the Draft Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at a well-attended event held yesterday in Lagos.
Lanre Ajayi, President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), who pulled up publicly available information from the website of Duth company, DigiVox that claims to have sold technologies that enable its listed clients including SSS, the nation’s security outfit and the Big Four GSM networks to monitor electronic communication of Nigerians.
DigiVox prides itself as, “Dutch manufacturer of specialized security applications such as lawful and tactical interception systems, secure GSM communication, GPS tracking devices and voice logging.”
Ajayi told attendees at the forum that whether by lawful or unlawful means, interception of communication is currently being done in Nigeria by some of the companies cited by the Dutch company.
The ATCON leader got the forum attendees on the edge of their seat when he notes that with the information posted in the “public domain” by the Dutch company, “interception is already being done in Nigeria.”
According to him, with the realisation that interception of electronic communication is evidently here with us and the technology capabilities have been implemented by the Big Four GSM operators, there is a need for a lawful backing for the programme.
He told the forum that there is the need to support the NCC’s move to give interception legal backings by giving effect to the Draft Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations being pushed by the telecoms industry regulator.
Interception is currently being done in the country, whether we like it or not, what the regulation seeks to address is to make this lawful, the ATCON President told the forum.
Ajayi disagreed with other speakers on the issue that the telecoms regulator was empowered under its establishing laws to implement lawful interception of electronic communication in Nigeria.
The NCC Regulations are seeking to empower security agencies in the country to monitor telephony, Internet and other electronic communications as part of measures by the government to secure lives and property in Nigeria when it goes into effect.
JACITAD convened the forum to generate feedback on the draft regulation from a cross section of stakeholders and also foster public understanding of its implications for Nigerians.
NCC says the Regulations are made to provide a legal and regulatory framework for the lawful interception of communications in Nigeria by designated law enforcement authorities in the interest of national security, for the purpose of preventing or investigating a crime and for the purpose of protecting and safeguarding the economic well-being of Nigerians.
The Regulation also seeks to safeguard the interest of public emergency or public safety and give support to any international mutual assistance agreements for the collection and disclosure of intercepted communications, among others.
The JACITAD Policy Review Forum was attended by the ICT Journalism Community in Nigeria cutting across Reporters, Bloggers, Correspondents, Editors and Publishers from leading Newspapers, Magazines and Specialised Industry Journals.